Lessons from the Field: Interview with Jim Cullen

This post is part of the The Teachers Certification Map’s “lessons from the field”, a series of posts featuring passionate, inspiring educators from across the country discussing some of the lessons that they have learned over the years that would help young teachers as they embark on their careers.

Jim Cullen teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York, NY and has been teaching for 21 years.

Below is our interview with Jim:

What inspired you to teach?

Discovering, somewhat unexpectedly, that I had an aptitude for it as a teaching fellow at Brown University, where I had the opportunity to design and teach my own course.

What classroom methods are most helpful in pushing students towards their goals?

Intellectual provocation in the form of classroom conversation. Framing good essay questions. And, ultimately, designing assignments where the students have to come up with the questions.

What is the one thing you wish you’d known when you started in the classroom?

It’s about connecting with the students as people. Not the content. Conveying a sense that you understand who THEY are (and if not, trying to find out).

What did your training teach you that was most helpful in preparing you to enjoy and thrive in a classroom today?

I have a Ph.D. in American Civilization. Having mastery of content frees you open to focus on the more human dimensions of teaching.

Do you know someone with great insights to share with young teachers, or do you want to be considered for an interview? If so, please email us at hello@certificationmap.com.

This is a guest post from our journalist Alex J. Mann.  You can subscribe to his blog hereand follow him on Twitter here.